Wild Mercury Sound
A Bugged Out Mix by Klaxons
It’s easy to be a bit snide about the Klaxons, as some of the fartish blather that greeted their Mercury Prize win proved. “Myths Of The Near Future” (was that the title?) wasn’t the best record on the shortlist, to my mind; I’ve played the Arctic Monkeys and Amy Winehouse albums more, if that’s any measure. Third best is still pretty good, though, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Klaxons were a truly futuristic band (one or two commentators claimed this after the Mercury win. I’m not even sure what “futuristic” means any more with regard to music, but never mind), I certainly like their ideas, their sense of intelligent mischief, and the suspicion that these are men who listen to a much more interesting range of music than their indie contemporaries.
This last hunch is corroborated by a 2CD mix set by them, “A Bugged Out Mix”, that arrived in Uncut yesterday. If you listened to their many detractors, so anxious to stereotype, a mix CD by the Klaxons would consist of some mediocre indie-dance crossovers, some comedy rave tracks from the early and mid-‘90s, and maybe a bit of cringeingly sexy Hoxton electro.
In fact, there’s precious few tunes on these two bracing CDs that you could term predictable. The presence of Blur is honest, since the bright, pushy, tuneful art-pop of “Myths Of The Near Future” distinctly recalls the earlyish manoeuvres of Damon Albarn. Even then, though, the selection of “Me, White Noise”, the hidden track on “Think Tank” featuring Phil Daniels, is thoughtful, if not entirely thrilling (“Think Tank” not doing it for me in general).
The Chemical Brothers and the Klaxons’ beloved Liars being here also make some sense, as does the inclusion of Justice’s monsterish “Stress”. Chiefly, though, CD1 consists of crisp, undulating, fairly minimal techno, with a possibly Germanic tinge that suggests the Klaxons are more clued into the svelte Kompakt label than some of the tackier dance hybrids at large in East London right now. Along with James Murphy and Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem’s disco-heavy Fabric mix, it’s made for long dance days in Uncut this week. “Shooting Tigers” by Markus Lange & Daniel Dexter is on now, and it’s bloody marvellous.
I suspect most of you, though, will be more drawn to CD2, which begins with Zager & Evans’ “In The Year 2525”, then slips brilliantly into the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Shame On A Nigga”, which reminds me that I need to try and hunt down that new Wu album if I can. Its playing yesterday compelled the Reviews Ed to tip me off about Louise Nurding’s extraordinary version of “Shame On A Nigga”, which you can watch here if you’re mad.
There are some more great juxtapositions here, like United States Of America’s “The Garden Of Earthly Delights” into Josef K’s “Sorry For Laughing”, and a great run that takes in one of those rare Todd Rundgren tracks (“Zen Archer”) where he actually lives up to his reputation, Frankie Valli’s rehabilitated “The Night”, Cluster’s “Caramel” (the Krautrock revival continues apace!) and Ariel Pink’s terrific “For Kate I Wait”.
The whole thing suggests a band with great eclectic taste – maybe more like Uncut readers than you’d expect - and very good skills at making their disparate interests sync up. Also I’ve seen one or two of them loitering around the road where (for the next eight days) I live, and they look quite big, so: great work!